MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis 901 FC extended their win streak to four matches Saturday through a match-winning header by Marcus Epps to beat Saint Louis 1-0.
901 FC and Saint Louis FC are the only two teams in the Eastern Conference who have won each of their last three matches.
Memphis proved to be the more clinical team in the match. They generated 10 shots and their only shot on target proved to be the match-winning goal.
Saint Louis managed 15 shots with four on frame.
The first 45 minutes of play were rather uneventful with both teams content to head to the locker rooms deadlocked at 0-0.
Memphis dictated play for most of the first half with 70% possession and 77% passing accuracy.
The possession stat is meaningful but, the key stat in the first half was shots on goal, or the lack of them.
Neither team generated a single shot on frame through the first half.
Memphis outshot Saint Louis 5-4 and none of the efforts troubled goalkeeper Jake Fenlason.
The 901 FC struggled to create any meaningful spells of possession in SLFC’s half until the 30th minute.
Forward Elliot Collier found space 20 yards from goal and blazed a shot well wide.
Minutes later, Cameron Lindley and Pierre Da Silva combined with great passing on the far sideline. Da Silva created room on the left-hand side of the box and fired a shot over the crossbar.
Head coaches Tim Mulqueen and Anthony Pulis made alterations to their team’s tactics for the second half.
A reoccurring theme for Memphis: Mulqueen opts to play passively in the first half and more direct in the second half.
The tactics paid off for a fourth straight match.
901 FC earned the best chance of the match 10 minutes into the second half.
Captain, Marc Burch’s set piece was knocked out for a corner and Cameron Lindley jogged over to take the kick in the 54th minute.
The inswing corner from Lindley was straight off the training ground.
Epps, in ideal position, rose up to head Memphis into the lead at the near post.
Memphis continued their direct approach over the following 10 minutes.
Saint Louis were able to generate a few chances which prompted Mulqueen to make a change. He switched Epps, who was on a yellow card, for the more defensive Duane Muckette.
Saint Louis continued to search for a goal, mainly through Tyler Blackwood.
The young striker scored four goals in as many matches prior to playing Memphis.
Liam Doyle was tasked with marking Blackwell throughout the match and he did so flawlessly.
Saint Louis was stifled in the final 15 minutes of the match.
Center-back Jacob Hauser-Ramsey came in for Brandon Allen five minutes prior to the final whistle.
The addition of another defender was too much for Saint Louis to overcome, as Memphis progressed to win their fourth straight match.
The win moved 901 FC up to 12 in the Eastern Conference standings, eight points shy of the final playoff spot.
They have 15 more points available with five matches remaining so playoffs are still an attainable goal.
901 FC is back in action against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Tuesday, September 24 at AutoZone Park.
— By Caleb Hilliard